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venerdì 3 luglio 2015

Ossiyan - Hardrada

#FOR FANS OF: Heavy Doom
Receiving a pile of promo CDs to review is always a messy affair - lots of plastic sleeves strewn with prototype logos and not much else. However, in my most recent bundle, one beautifully packaged CD juts out from the rest. The artwork is utterly stunning, the band's logo is proudly adorned in a noble font, and the track-titles all sound elegant and grandiose. London's Ossiyan mean business, and their debut LP 'Hardrada' is nothing if not grandiose...and heavy as fuck. Describing themselves as 'valiant doom' was a smart move. Bearing this description in mind, and gazing at the truly fantastic cover art, will prepare the atmosphere appropriately for these up-and-coming doomsters to crush your skull. In a nutshell, the music on 'Hardrada' can be described as the Melvins receiving an informative lecture on vikings, led by Crowbar. The menacing whispers and dynamics of the former fuse happily with the down-tuned crushing sludge of the latter. Vocalist A. Wisbey even bears resemblance to King Buzzo at certain points; mainly during the quieter spoken sections - but even more so in the first verse of "Parting of the Seas". The concept behind this album is certainly unique, especially for an English band. Focusing on one particular historical event: the invasion of Stamford bridge by the vikings, led by Hardrada, who were crushed by the English - thus ending the reign of the vikings. The storytelling aspect of the music is well-executed through their use of contrasting dynamics and suitable lyrics. The introductory title-track is the perfect gateway to the rest of the album. Its gradual crescendo is expertly handled. The climax, where it finally explodes into pure doom metal goodness, is so satisfying! "Parting of the Seas" is a masterpiece, plain and simple. A. Wisbey's guttural, yet semi-melodic, growls are truly viking-esque, especially when his screams become desperate and emotive - magic stuff! O. Isaac's guitar tone is fat and meaty, and he certainly has no shortage of riffs! The opening riff to "Parting of the Seas" is grand and regal, and the closing riff of "War Weary" is my riff of the year so far - 'heavy' is too mild a word for it! J. Butler's bass carries some serious weight and is a delight to listen to. Unfortunately, M. Shankey's drums deflate the sound a little - the snare is far too dry and the whole kit is lacking reverb. A shame, considering his performance is more than admirable. Although the album tends to lose a sense of direction at its heart, the whole endeavour is refreshingly brief - letting it tell what it needs to and move on before any stagnation takes hold. The finale of "...And To Valhalla We Ride" is simultaneously melancholic and bombastic. Its closing chords seem to pound away with a sense of triumphant valour and mournful sorrow. I greatly anticipate more material from these newcomers, for if 'Hardrada' is any sign of things to come - it could signal the start of an English doom metal uprising. Much like Winterfylleth and their black metal cohorts. Make it happen, lads! (Larry Best)

(Self - 2015)
Score: 85